Grade 5 students at Davidson Road Elementary in Lake Country are using media broadcasting technology to highlight what’s happening around their school.
Called “The Low Down,” the video segments involve the students being in front of and behind the camera, working together to produce every second Monday a video news update of school happenings.
Grade 5 teacher Drew Bonneteau said the genesis behind the idea started from unfortunate circumstances.
Fellow Grade 5 teacher Brad Low was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and took a leave of absence from work to deal with medical treatments.
“He had to go to Vancouver for those treatments so during that school year, we came up with the idea of providing newscast updates for the school on how he was progressing during that time. Brad is not back in the classroom yet but fortunately his cancer is in remission and he is in recovery.”
But expanding on that premise to highlight other activities around the school struck a chord of enthusiasm among the Grade 5s and offered what Bonneteau saw as a fun and creative opportunity to teach language arts.
He said the Low Down videos teach students how to write for an intended audience, read for voice and emphasis, and demonstrate expression in their oral language.
Bonneteau said the new school curriculum adopted by the Central Okanagan School District encourages teachers to find new and creative ways to teach their students outside of the pen-and-paper format.
“Anytime you can use technology in the classroom as a teaching tool students get very excited,” said Bonneteau. “Kids so often use technology to keep themselves occupied, to keep from being bored in their leisure time. So this is one way of using it in a productive way. This is a real-world application of a shared experience that the kids have really bought into.”
Bonneteau was joined by several of his students to show a Low Down promotion video and make a presentation about the program to school trustees at last Wednesday’s school board meeting.
School administrator/CEO Kevin Kaardal said the Low Down program is an outstanding example of new curriculum opportunities to learn from real-life experiences and become better critical thinkers.
Kaardal asked Bonneteau’s students if any wanted to become journalists in their future careers, but none were interested in that.
Some trustees were amazed by the green screen background video production values, something Bonneteau said is visually impressive to the older generation but not difficult to produce with today’s technology.
“It looks flashy and some of my previous career background as a graphic designer comes into play there as well I guess, but the technology behind it is pretty simple.
“We put a green sheet against the wall and film the broadcast with an iPad.”
Bonneteau said while students only go in front of the camera for Low Down reports if they feel comfortable doing so, he added other tasks such as filming, operating the teleprompter, writing script and editing are done by their classmates as well.
“This is a great way to build up self-confidence among the students and put the reading and writing components of what they learn to practical use,” he said.
“They may not all decide they want to become journalists because of this experience, but it can be a great jumping off point for them for something like acting or some other kind of direction in the communications field.”
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